And then again the other aspect of the American character where the reverend Williamson and the heroic Reverend Williamson the Presbyterian pastor turns up with the keys to his church and said, ‘Use my church, come and use it as a mosque, come and pray in my church until you find your own home of worship.’ So we saw a community under that kind of pressure not very certain, not very sure of its leadership in some mosques we saw the Imam being openly challenged. In some mosques we saw the Imam secure confident in some we saw the Imam transferred or his services terminated abruptly we asked questions, ‘Why this happening?’ As again an anthropologist I am concerned with cause and effect, if this happens then this will happen. Those are the laws of society. And although some may doubt this Michelle we anthropologists believe that we are a social science. So there is some element of logic to the subject and if you begin to, add all these different bits and pieces you get a fairly coherent picture of society. A society which on the whole is going through a phase of uncertainty fear in parts even paranoia, is worried and concerned about the future. The leadership is spotty. It’s there in one place, not there in another place. Challenged in its own community, challenged outside. The very religion sometimes brutally mocked in public, in the media and a community helpless to answer. How does it answer when the God of Islam or the holy prophet of Islam was the most respected and revered figures in Islam is mocked in public. What do they do? This is a society that values rightly and correctly freedom. But does freedom mean that Islam is singled out and mocked and ridiculed? We don’t see this happening of the Jewish faith or the Catholics or the other communities or the Hindus or the Buddhists. It seems that Islam is constantly at the receiving end of this kind of ridicule and humiliation and people can get away with it. You hear all kinds of nonsense about Islam and no one seems to bother about it. So this does have an effect on an individual who may believe we are in a free society, all of us have the same rights. But then becomes aware that somehow a Muslim is being singled out for that particular wrath or ridicule and that of course creates a lot of heart burning.

Michelle: And you mentioned in the book sort of your way of sketching out the different schools of, I don’t know if you said schools or [IB] sort of philosophical and theological schools. Do you feel like you could talk a little bit about those schools?

Akbar Ahmed: Yes because very often we assume this is a radical mosque, this is a mosque inclined towards terrorism and so on and that makes no sense me because a mosque basically is just bricks and motor and cement, it’s a building. It’s the people inside the mosque that determine which was it’s going to be going particularly the Imam with the board, the elders of that mosque. And we found and again this reflects our finding in the Muslim world, that if you divided them into three broad categories as you divided Muslim society into the mystics, into the modernists and the literalists. You’ll have a clearer idea of how each these three groups is responding to society around them. Now, I’ll hastily add that these aren’t water tight categories. That there is a great deal of overlap, that these are very crude categories simply allowing us to visualize, to conceptualize a very complex and diverse society because the entire Muslim world is here, you have Muslims from the whole Muslim world. We met Muslims from Cambodia and Muslims from Afghanistan and Turkey the whole Muslim world. So how do you make sense with it, if you did this you’ve had these three broad categories it immediately begins to make sense that a mystic for example a mystic mosque would be emphasizing universal humanism so for example in the Mystic Mosque in New York and we give examples of these we saw, I would say something like what 20, 30% of the people there were Jews you know they were completely at home they were there they sat down, we all chanted the wondrous names of God and there is a wonderful atmosphere of a universal brotherhood if you like. The Imam that evening was a female, a Muslim convert then the Mosque which a modernist mosque where their conscience of being Muslim, they are also conscious of being American, they are conscience that this is a mosque we come here we say our prayers, we elevate ourselves spiritually and we go home. Our aim is not to disrupt or blow up things or to be violent, they are also conscience of the media and the demands of the media. A modernist mosque then there are the literalist mosques. Now the literalist mosque would want to worship basically their aim is to be left alone to their own faith, to their own prayers, and they also believe a lot of them that Islam is under attack, Islam is being attacked and Islam is being constantly harassed and humiliated and we Muslims as a community, as a faith must stand up and defend our faith.

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